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Senegal likley to host first UFC fight in Africa

Israel Adesanya celebrates his win. Photo: blackentreprise.com

Senegal will likely become the first to host the African debut of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), UFC’s chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein says.

Africa is the only continent that is yet to host any UFC match and obviously a major unexplored market for the organisation.

The desire to hold a fight on African soil was further heightened after the UFC held a trifecta of African champions; Francis Ngannou, Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman.

“A UFC event in Africa has been on our radar for many years,” Epstein said while speaking to BBC Africa.

“The first thing we look for is an arena that suits our size requirements. We like those arenas that are within the 12,000 to 20,000 range. Africa certainly has some smaller arenas – there is nothing wrong with that but we like to pack arenas, to create a tremendous amount of energy, and, of course, the more tickets you have to sell the better”, he explained.

This led the UFC to consider the possibility of having a UFC event in the 15,000-capacity stadium in Dakar which was opened in 2018, Epstein said.

“That’s why Dakar is leading because they have one of the larger arenas in sub-Saharan Africa and a lot of events have already gone there with success. Senegal is top of the list based on the information that our team has put together. The next step is to get our entire operation team down to do a site survey, evaluate the arena and all the infrastructure we need to put on an event.”

Famous winning fighters at the UFC of African heritage are Francis Ngannou from Cameroon, Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya; both Nigerians have endeared global attention, especially in their home continent.

Writing by Muzha Kucha